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World News

U.S. urges Japan follow EU with more Iran sanctions

TOKYO (Reuters) - U.S. officials urged on Wednesday Japan to follow the European Union in adopting additional strong sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, saying such measures should not harm Japan’s oil imports from Iran.

Japan approved on Tuesday new sanctions against Iran in line with a U.N. Security Council resolution in June, including adding 40 companies and an individual to a blacklist targeted for a freezing of assets.

Japan will also take steps aimed at preventing fund transfers related to the supply to Iran of large conventional weapons and ban investment from Iran related to nuclear technology.

It also vowed to consider by the end of this month what kind of further steps it could take.

Robert Einhorn, special adviser for nonproliferation and arms control at the U.S. State Department, welcomed Japan’s decision to consider more measures beyond the U.N. requirements and said Washington was looking forward to working with Tokyo “in sending strong, clear signals to Iran”.

“Now we look to Japan as a leader of the global nonproliferation regime and a close ally of the United States to play a strong role in this effort,” Einhorn told a news conference in Tokyo, where he met his Japanese counterparts to discuss sanctions against Iran and North Korea.

“Japan imports a lot of oil from Iran but steps we are asking Japan to take would not interfere in any way with Japan’s energy security and its imports of oil from Iran,” Einhorn said.

“I would advise you as we advised the government of Japan to look at measures already adopted by the European Union (EU). These are strong measures but the Japanese adoption of strong measures would not adversely affect the economy of Japan.”

EU AS A MODEL

EU foreign ministers last month adopted extra sanctions against Iran, targeting investment in its oil and gas industries, limits on financial transfers and a ban on dealing with the state shipping line and air cargo.

Speaking at the same news conference, Daniel Glaser, U.S. Treasury deputy assistant secretary for terrorist financing and financial crimes, also said that while Japanese banks’ financing of oil transactions with Iran had not been prohibited, Japan should look at what the EU did.

“There are tremendous risks out there dealing with Iranian banks,” Glaser said, noting that the EU had completely cut off certain Iranian banks from the European financial system and imposed strict limits on transactions.

“I am quite confident that Japan will take measures to protect the Japanese system from the Iranian financial abuse.”

On North Korea, Einhorn said Pyongyang needed to demonstrate that it was serious about denuclearization and take tangible steps in order for six-party talks aimed at ending North Korea’s nuclear program to be resumed.

But he declined to elaborate on what kind of tangible steps Washington wanted to see.

“It has to demonstrate, especially in the light of provocative actions over the last couple of years, that it’s serious and that it’s sincere about denuclearization ... And perhaps if it does show a genuine willingness to make progress we can break what has been an unacceptable cycle from the past.”

Tension on the Korean peninsula has reached new heights since the sinking of a South Korean navy ship in March, killing 46 sailors, which the South blames on the North, prompting Seoul to impose sanctions against Pyongyang. Washington has also said it would impose new measures against the North.

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